Milk over-supply can be a common issue, and is most generally started right around the 2 week-1 month mark after your milk comes in. It can be very uncomfortable for both mom and baby, and causes a hindmilk/foremilk imbalance.
Lots of mothers, who don’t have oversupply, feel that it’s a ‘good problem’ to have, because then the mother never has to worry about her baby not getting enough milk. However it can cause a lot of pain, and the over active milk ejection can cause the baby to choke and sputter while feeding. If your baby is always very irritable or fussy and never really seems ‘satisfied’, while still gaining a lot of weight and having more than enough dirty or wet diapers and you always feel like your breasts are ‘full’, oversupply could be your issue. There are ways to combat this issue.
1) Try to not pump as much. It seems counterintuitive, especially if you are in a lot of pain because you are so full. But your supply generally meets demand, so the less you pump, the less you will make. If you need to pump to relieve some pain (trust me I know that is needed) then pump just enough to make yourself comfortable.
2) Cold washcloths. This can not only help relieve the pain, but can also work to decrease your milk supply. Generally speaking, heat will increase your milk supply (slightly, but it can help) and cold will help decrease your supply. Or at least relieve the pressure on the milk ducts by reducing the swelling.
3) Cabbage leaves. Cabbage leaf compresses can help decrease the milk supply as well, if used often. It will also help relieve the symptoms of being engorged.
4) Herbs such as peppermint, sage, and thyme also help reduce milk production.
5) Avoid breast stimulation as much as possible. Avoid running warm water over your breasts (like in the shower) or using breast shields.
6) Feed only on one side per feeding. Offer one side for 2 hours, then offer the next side for 2 hours. This will limit the amount of time each side spends feeding and will naturally begin to to decrease your milk supply.
Check yourself for milk ejection force issues as well.
. The milk tends to come out way too fast and can cause baby to choke and sputter. If you notice that you are having a forceful ejection, you can ease this by:
1) Keeping a towel or cloth on hand and spraying the extra into it.
2) Laying down when feeding if possible. This makes it easier on both mommy and baby, because then the extra can just dribble down baby’s cheek/chin.
3) Feed just as baby is waking up when he/she is still sleeping, so the suck isn’t as forceful. Also, try to feed just as baby is getting hungry, which will also cause a gentler suck. We have discussed hunger cues and feeding positions here.
Do you have a little one on the way? I’d love for you to take a look at this child birth hypnosis kit! It’s my #1 recommendation as a doula to be for those looking to have a relaxing and rewarding home birth experience! I also recommend taking a look at elimination communication, which you can start from newborn on up! This makes potty training a breeze and drastically reduces your diapering costs!